Traveling is one of our favorite things as a family to do. As a child the only thing I truly wanted to do more than anything else was to travel the world. Jolene and I have traveled many places. Still, we plan to travel many more location. Above our fireplace is a map of the places we have traveled, and also places we plan to go. About 2 years ago we went on our first cruise. We found out that traveling by ship is not our favorite way to go. We thought we would try again, this time with MSC Cruises. So I thought I would write about our first impressions of MSC Cruises.
We decided to travel to Miami and visit a few Caribbean countries via boat. Braeden started out 8 weeks of age. Only a couple ships will take a newborn on ship. Almost all cruise companies require children to be at least 6 months of age. Some require them to be at least a year of age. We are an adventurous couple, and though we would try a cruise with a infant before she went back to work. MSC Cruises afforded us that option. Many ships are regulated by US laws, and therefore the age requirements. MSC is an Italian company, which is why I believe they are more relaxed with age restrictions.
When we got to the Port of Miami we were dropped off early in the morning at the wrong pier. We had to walk about a mile down to the first pier. Do not follow Google’s directions to the MSC Divina, as they take you to an entirely wrong location. The last time we went on a cruise, the cruise line offered us storage of our luggage until we checked them into the boat. This time we had to wait from 6:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. to check them in. After taking a redeye flight with a 8 week old baby, having to wait near our luggage was not very fun.
When we went to check in the luggage, the attendant was begging for tips. Every person who he helped he requested a tip from. I told him I didn’t have a tip, and he was disgusted because he thought I was from Europe. Do they not tip in Europe? I had checked ahead of time, and found that MSC Cruises charges a service charge (tip) of $12.50 a person, per day. That more than enough covers the tips for your their services. For myself, I tip people additionally when I feel they deserve that service. The first person I met from MSC Cruises did not deserve such.
We finally got on the ship around 11:00. To our surprise the ship MSC Divina was much nicer than I had anticipated. The stairways in the center of the boat are lined with lights and glass. It reminds me of Elsa’s castle. The artwork is intriguing. The rooms are nicer in my opinion than Norwegian Cruise Line. We were created by a lady dressed in a Princess dress. She was signing the kids up for the children’s activities. A couple of the elevators at the center of the boat is rounded in glass so that you can see out while going to upper levels.
The buffet food is fairly similar to other cruise lines. I do think the food is a little better. The deserts are not as attractive as NCL, however they do taste better. Which, I would rather have taste over looks. The dining entrees is much better in my opinion. Each night the assigned dining has different menus which makes choices even more friendly. You are also assigned the same table every night if you choose the formal dining option. For most, you will be assigned a table with another family. Luckily Johanna found two little girls her age to sit with.
One thing that I found different with MSC is that the ship caters to other nationalities. Since the ship is Italian, there are many Italians on board. More than half of the ships patrons do not speak English. I also found it difficult to talk to many of the employees as many could not speak English very well. It is fun to find out where other people are from though.
The pools themselves are fun to play in. Never, open your eyes under the water. They fill them with so much salt that they literally burn to top layer cells in your eyes. I know, because it took me a day before my eye sight properly returned.
Many of the other cruise lines offer free laundry service. MSC charges $35 for 20 pieces of clothing. $55 for 40 pieces of clothing. We packed with the idea of having our laundry done for us. However, for that price it was a bit much.
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